By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood July 1, 2014 at 2:34PM
The online movie watching service Fandor--under its new(ish) CEO Ted Hope, who took over the venture this January--is celebrating an important first this week: the premiere of Hal Hartley's new film, "My America."
Hartley is the quintessentially indie writer and director behind "Simple Men," "No Such Thing" and "Fay Grim" who has also directed a string of theater productions, and "My America"--premiering July 4--is his first film specifically focused on theatrical performance. Commissioned by Center Stage (the State Theater of Maryland), the project consists of 21 monologues focusing on modern American life written by big-name American playwrights, among them Neil LaBute, Marcus Gardley and Rajiv Joseph.
Fandor is a curated online service for international and independent films, and Hope left the San Francisco Film Society for it in January, after saying that he wanted to "engage in total system reboot of the film industry."
As TOH! noted when Hope announced his new gig, the producer highlighted Fandor's specialized content as a major draw, expressing a desire that it could develop and strengthen a sense of 'film culture' in the United States that would help ensure artists get the financial compensation they deserve. Last year, Fandor brought in more than three dozen new partners and filmmakers to be featured on its service, and the site has also launched in Canada and on a variety of home entertainment devices, including mobile and tablet platforms.
Ted Hope and Hal Hartley have a longstanding relationship--as the Fandor CEO put it in a Facebook post last year, "I got started producing films for Hal Hartley." So he's doing his old friend a solid in bringing "My America"--which certainly doesn't look like a lucrative project in a traditional sense--to audiences via Fandor.
"My America" is billed as 'a Fandor exclusive'--in other words, this is a first-run title. Mobile platforms producing original content almost seems like old news these days (think Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.) but in reality, we're just at the very tip of the spear when it comes to where those kinds of collaborations between filmmakers and distributors can go. Ted Hope is anything but set in his ways. This could be a sign of where he plans to take Fandor.
Check out Fandor's new series partnering with The Reinventors. Anne Thompson participated in an enlightening roundtable on Audiences, highlights below.